Rides For Women, By Women. About Time.

News of rape and sexual assault, alleged or otherwise, has followed Uber across the globe as the ride-sharing app expanded its base from where it first launched and where the company headquarters are, San Francisco. The service’s safety record has always been, to put it lightly, dubious. Last month, it cumulated in an online war of sorts between Uber and the popular Internet news and media entity, Buzzfeed.

Buzzfeed ran an article based on what appeared to be screen captures of reports from Uber’s own customer service system. The leaked reports showed that searches for the term “sexual assault” had 6,160 results while the word “rape” came back with 5,827 results. The numbers are disturbing, to say the least.

Uber responded within the day with its own blog post, explaining that the high numbers are due to several reasons: complainants often misspell “rate” as “rape” or use the word in other context; the word “rape” can appear in a name, such as Susan Raper, and the complaints could also include passengers who had used non-Uber service or were related to media reports of unsubstantiated sexual assaults.

You can read the Buzzfeed article here and Uber’s response here, because we don’t want to go into any more details about it. We really wanted to write about what could be a solution to offering females a safer ride, with lesser risk of getting a perverted driver. And it is aptly called Chariot for Women.

Chariot is an app that is similar to Uber, except that ALL riders and drivers are female (with the exception of boys under 13, who are allowed to ride). Is this discrimination against men? You betcha. But sometimes safety overrules other considerations.

The creator is Bostonian Michael Pelletz, a former Uber driver, who has had his fair share of dangerous encounters while ferrying strangers in his car. When he lost his day job, he began driving for Uber up to 17 hours a day. His wife had also considered driving for Uber. But Pelletz picked up a booking one night, an agitated rider who kept reaching into his pocket for something; Pelletz was terrified, and he pulled over and alerted the police. That incident got Pelletz thinking that it must be worse for women, whether she be driver or rider. Thus, Chariot for Women was born.

Chariot was designed based on Pelletz’s experience as a driver and all the potential dangers that female riders or drivers could encounter. Besides the all-female fleet, Chariot incorporates a safe word into the system so that riders know that they are getting picked up by the right driver.

Here’s another great thing about Chariot. Pelletz’s wife, Kelly, is the president (no, that’s not it, although that great too) and she implemented an element of charity into every booking – 2% of all fares go to women-focused charities and the passenger gets to choose which charity, from a list of 10, that her portion goes to. As soon as the rider hits the button, the money is immediately deposited into the charity’s bank account.

Read their entire story here

The Chariot app will launch on 19 April. All we can say is that it’s about time.

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